Last week we had our first quarterly quell of 2014. It was one of the most interesting weeks I’ve had in a very long time––and that’s saying a lot (I live an eccentric life). Generally when people think of company-wide meetings, their first instinct is to panic. Well, since I’ve started at Rustici, my urge to panic has been a frequent one.

Why? Because this place is cool, and when you’ve been conditioned to be skeptical of career luxuries, it’s pretty difficult to let go of that habit. They say it takes 28 days to start or break a habit.

After 35 days, my 6-year-long work anxiety habit is GONE.

This comfort comes from knowing that I’m surrounded by a gang of the smartest, coolest, most dedicated people you can get under one roof. I am no longer afraid to share my ideas, challenge others, ask for help, or just plain be myself. These people are awesome.

Here are three examples why:

1. They are real:

Imagine a circle of trust, but less corny. That was our Monday morning quell kick-off meeting. Aside from the entertaining agenda banter, Mike and Tim (the two owners of Rustici Software) talked about things that mattered to me and everyone else. They also welcomed any (really, any) questions and answered them openly and honestly. We were talking like real people.


2. They are passionate (sometimes about really nerdy things):

Monday night was Magic game night. Joe ordered new card packs a month in advance. During the draft and three rounds of play, the intensity rivaled that of a Walker Texas Ranger stare-off (post roundhouse kick).

At one point, the pizza guy came to drop off our dinner. He stopped, looked around, and asked half-terrified, half-amazed, “Who are you people?”

I found myself thinking the same thing when I asked some of the veteraned players why the newbies beat them. My favorite answer came from Joe: “Well, when you’re helping your opponent learn how to play, sometimes you help them win. That’s okay,”

It sounds like a Disney movie, but for Rusticians, the passion to support trumps the passion to win—I’ve witnessed this consistently, with my own eyes.

3. They are nuts:

This year Tim planned a wedding-themed murder mystery party as a surprise wedding shower for Jena (who was told we were doing a medieval-fantasy-themed mystery).

After weeks of pretending, we all (including Jena’s fiance, Stephan” showed up in our best wedding-themed outfits. Jena walked in with a face mask and velveteen cape. To say the least, she was extremely surprised. After the shock wore off, she wore her toilet-paper wedding gown with pride, transformed into her character, and got murdered (in the game).

Not a single person under-committed. I was seriously terrified of Mike (the Italian mob father) and felt so sorry for Andy (the paranoid wedding planner). These people are not afraid to be themselves or have fun—they are the best kind of crazy.

Here are some more pictures of the murder mystery party.

jena surprised

So, who are these people?

I’m still learning who these people are, but there’s one thing I know about them all—they work at Rustici Software—and I’m happy and proud to have become one of them.